Business in Boardshorts Podcast
EP7 – Holly Twining


Release Date: January 6, 2021

Location: Orono, Maine

Guest Name: Holly Twining

Business Name: Maine Yoga Adventures

Business Website:

Guest: I worked for main Audubon, which was a huge dream for me, right and then an amazing environmental organization and I was a naturalist. So my job was to connect people to nature. So get people outside like what — what a killer job right? I thought, Oh, I can’t do better than this. connecting people to nature. I’m getting outside having fun. And then from Maine Audubon came Maine Yoga

Host: Welcome back, and welcome to the Business in Boardshorts podcast. Today, my guest is Holly Twinning from the coast of Maine with Maine Yoga Adventures. How you doing?

Guest: I’m awesome. Thanks for having me.

Host: You’re welcome. And as we just talked about, I will say that you have the most unique business I have seen to date. So I’m excited to jump in.

Guest: Well, thank you. Yeah, Maine Yoga Adventures has been exciting since day one. It’s — it’s a company that’s the tagline is yoga and nature, plus a little extra. So the little extra is honestly like, whatever I want to do. So we could go hike a mountain, and we can do some yoga postures on top, we can come down, we can have a wine tasting, and then we can salsa dance. And yeah, and then we’ll call
it a day.

Host: Now, did you decide that just hours before, spur the moment, or is it planned?

Guest: Well, sometimes I can actually do a pop up adventure, and I’ll decide maybe just a week ahead of time. Or if I’m really feeling solid about something maybe a couple days, but yes, I give people a little bit of leeway. So they can jump in for the fun, you know, put it in their schedule. The yeah, so — there’s always a yoga practice. There’s always getting people outside in some way. So I love rock climbing now. I didn’t know anything about it before I started the company. Ice climbing, which I love now. Again, I would have thought really Holly, ice climbing? I’ve been on top of Katahdin in the winter, two winters in a row, which is nuts. Yeah. So I — there’s the exciting bits, you know, like the thrill bits, and then they’re the really chill bits. So there’s like, the spa adventures. I do a little gentle yoga. And then we do a foot soak. And it’s, it’s lovely.

Host: I think you just hit on something. I didn’t realize that. But now thinking of through that I’ve maybe that’s why I was drawn to it because you did have the — the super chill, or and like the high adventure and, like too extreme. So just like super intriguing that way. Let’s start with your backstory the beginning days. Just kind of give some context to give our listeners kind of how you got started through it all.

Guest: Yeah, so I’m a Rhode Islander originally. So I am from the ocean state. And I know this is about the water. So I’ve always been drawn to the ocean. I love it. So we as a family, we used to go to the town beach were we lived close to Pickford, Rhode Island. So that’s right where the harbor is, and we would go and take lovely little box there and the sweet little town. Um, but I also have the city vibe, you know, because Providence is right there. So you know, you could do the funky fun stuff, too, like on their street and stuff. So that was good too. little punk rock kids on the corner. So, growing up in Rhode Island was cool, because we could go to the beach. Yeah. So we would go play in the waves, you know, like huge waves sometimes, and they’re crashing on you rolling around. But I have to say I didn’t get into surfing until later when I went to Costa Rica. And I’ve been to Costa Rica, like six years in a row. But yeah, so from Rhode Island, I didn’t move very far. Halfway through my sophomore year we moved to Connecticut. And so where I moved to was right near Westerly, Rhode Island. And that’s like, land and the beaches. Right? So all these different beaches up in there. Some really beautiful isolated ones. And then like the crazy beaches, right, the really funny like 80’s beach vibe, like, I don’t know, just kind of like, I have to say it just kind of like the sleazy kind of gross beach vibes too. So there was like a huge mix of beach stuff happening in Rhode Island slash Connecticut, right? Because I was right there on the border, even though I’d moved to Connecticut. And then my story gets crazy complicated. And that’s because I go to school in Connecticut. And then I go to California, California’s awesome, huge adventure. So I’ve travelled cross country three times in a car, you know, hitting a couple different places. Time in California was awesome. When I came back and I went to coming back meaning New England and so I came back to New England to eventually back to Rhode Island Believe it or not, because I don’t know things just happen if you’re a Rhode Islander at some point like, it sucks you right back in, I don’t know. But I ended up back in Rhode Island only to planned my next getaway, which was New York City for 10 years, right. So I was a dancer, I was an actor. So I was really, really deep into the art scene. And I was — I had my own company, I was a director, you know, doing all the things right. So always this interdisciplinary attitude for my life. And, and from all these goings on in New York City, where I got my Masters too, it was an Interdisciplinary Master’s from NYU, which was funny, you know, because I was picking through again, environmental ethics, started yoga, you know, all the all the things. And then I was like, oh, let’s quiet down. Quiet down a little bit. Chill out. Right. So that’s that again in my life crazy adventure. Oh, what are you going do next? Oh, my God. And then I was like, Okay, back to nature, back to nature. Calm down. So I moved to Maine. And in Maine, it turned out to be a wicked blessing because I — I worked for Maine Audubon, which was a huge dream for me, right. And then an amazing environmental organization, and I was a naturalist. So my job was to connect people to nature. So get people outside like, what — what a killer job, right? I thought, Oh, I can’t do better than this, connecting people to nature. I’m getting outside having fun. And then from Maine, Audubon came Maine Yoga Adventure. I was leading this workshop called yoga and nature for them, right? So people would show up. And we’d go on a lovely walk through the property, I’d feed them, give them a yoga practice. And then, when my time was up there at the nature center, I thought, oh, my gosh, this is it, the yoga nature piece, right? Take that out of me in Audubon and put it just me and whatever the hell else I want to do. That’s it in a nutshell, like tightly packed. Many things happened in there. But there you go.

Host: I love how what you’re doing right now, mixing the adventure in the yoga. That’s, that’s just you. So that’s, it’s authentically, you. And I think that’s something that everybody can take away. And whatever it is that that is authentic to them to kind of run with. So I think that is really, really neat. How — can you explain to the listeners exactly what your services look like in terms of like, these are not these amount of people that come in a group or like it’s just me or I have some other employees as well. And just the intricacies of it?

Guest: There. Yeah. So it is just me, I’m the sole proprietor. But the beautiful thing Maine Yoga Adventures is I use professionals to help me lead some of these adventures, right? So I’m not the pro ice climber saying, hey, yeah, I got all the gear. Let’s go. I love it when I can use local guides. It is awesome, right? I’m supporting the community and also when I can, get local food, right? That’s a big thing. Local organic foods, because food is a big part of Maine Yoga Adventures. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 25 years. So I love to spread that message to — to put that in the umbrella of Maine Yoga Adventures. So I do say it’s just me, but honestly, I bring a cook, especially when I do my international adventures. So I can hang out with everybody. I can chat, have a beer, and oh, my cooks taken care of that. Okay, hang on, you know, I don’t have to do it, which is awesome. I just had the Gold Coast adventure here in Maine, and I go to the Gold Coast every year because it’s these gorgeous cliffs, you know, along the ocean of Maine. It’s really special terrain out there. But I through COVID I’ve been doing all the food myself. And finally, I was like, please, somebody come with me. And so I ended up being able to get a two bedroom apartment for me and my cooks. I was like, ah, so it was nice to have somebody help me again. Um, but yeah, I tried to think of ways to bring other people in to the company, right? So if I know somebody who’s a belly dancer locally, right? And I say, oh, let’s come together, I’ll put you in an adventure. Or there’s somebody that knows this specific kind of really tricky hike and I’m like, I want to bring people but I’m a little nervous, right, then I get to employ them and it’s really great and – and sometimes adventurers will just be like, Holly, I really want to do this. You know, my friend teaches me. So there’s a steel mace that I’ve been getting into, right? So I’m like, yeah, let’s throw in an adventure. We’ll figure something out. And it’s always new, right? It’s always fresh. It’s always like, what do we feel like doing? Let’s do it. Certainly fun.

Ad-Break: Hey, there it CT. I’m interrupting my own show. Because I’m now opening new clients or I have a waitlist for website design and marketing strategy sessions. If you’re trying to throw in your marketing dollars down the drain, and want a website that actually drives new business, let’s hop on a call. You can book a free hour with me at, that

Host: So how many of the events that you’re going on are ones that that you’ve created that are kind of pre-packaged versus a customer comes to you and wants to, hey, I want to try this or that?

Guest: That’s an excellent question. I have to say that it’s really interesting because my international trips have come to me because people want to go or people are say to me, oh, my gosh, I’ve been going to this place for years, Holly, you have to do this. I was leading this trip, in Burrstone Mountain years ago when I first started. And one of my adventurers said, you should go to Iceland. And I was like, oh, yeah, that sounds cool. And I just I, now it’s just in I’ve been going there for years and bringing people that’s been awesome. And like, every time it gets better. This last time, I did a beer soak. Oh, holy cow. Okay, you’re in this wooden big tub, right? There’s a beer spout next to the tub. And it was lovely and warm. And it was just fabulous. But so often, these international trips just sort of fall into my lap. Like Italy, a friend, you know, said, there’s this organic garden in Italy. They have all these interns. They make delicious food. It’s — it’s just a beautiful part of Italy. You have to go and there we went. And I didn’t even scout that one. I was just like, yeah, we’re going to go. I figured it out along the way. It was super fun. So I can’t really tell you, and necessarily, how many are me and how many are other people. But I really, in order to keep it creative, right, I got to like, keep my ears open. I got to see what people are wanting to do what they’re interested in. So it keeps me yeah, it keeps it exciting, right, because I don’t, I don’t really know where it’s going to go or what I’m going to do.

Host: I keep the fresh. So fresh, keeps you wanting to go on different trips.

Guest: Right? Because it better be different. Right? Like, every time, every adventure is different, so.

Host: Yeah, what would you say that you that? You mentioned that a lot? Like just a sort of, like I’ve heard in the fitness space, you know, here come here, because no two workers are the same. Similar to yours.

Guest: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And even if you go like on the same one, like maybe like the Gold Coast, when I was talking about, maybe you went on it last year, it’s going be totally different than next year doesn’t even matter if I throw in, you know, one of the same hikes, it’s, it’s, so the adventures are different, right? Every time is a different group. So it’s a different dynamic. And holy cow, the magic of watching people come together and being able to just talk and forget about their phones and just see beautiful places and actually, like connect like that. I don’t know, you know, the energy and the auras and everything is just it’s so great. So great to see and now I have adventures that have become friends through the adventures right? So I’ve been doing this for five years, over five years now and yeah, we have this great group and new people are always welcome you know, always like hey, thanks for coming. You’re awesome too.

Host: You know, I was going to say that, as you were talking there when you’re reading my mind, the being present, the no phones, the no distractions. They — I am just immersed in to nature where I am and who I’m with. I think there’s something special there and unique there too, that you can’t get anywhere else. So I definitely vibe with that for sure. How many people like, what’s the max amount that you take in a group?

Guest: Yeah, so I’ve been keeping the group at about 13 or less, you know, and I never really want that many anyway. Ah, 13 seems to be a — I don’t know just comes up a lot. It’s fine with me. I like it when I can connect with each adventurer. Right? And, you know, really talk to them. I always feel bad if the group is too big and I’m like, ah, never really, huh. What was that person’s name? I did not know. You know, if I don’t really get to, like face to face and connect with them. Yeah, it’s, it’s makes me a little sad. So I love the smaller groups. And I think they appreciate that too. Right. So everybody can really get to know each other. Yeah.

Host: Sorry to say quality over quantity, then?

Guest: That’s right. That’s right. How many people can come to this adventure? Yeah. So internationally to like with Germany, I kept it small. I was like you know what, there’s just going to be nine of us total. It’s going be me, and my cook, and seven adventurers, much to some adventurers chagrin, right? They’re like, oh, I want to go like they’re off to do have to do like two trips back to back to different groups. Well, once we can go internationally, right.

Host: Yeah. How many trips, would you say you go on then throughout the year? I guess internationally or domestically?

Guest: Yeah. Yeah. So I like to — well, before COVID, I was really doing two adventures, two adventures a month. So one would be local, and one would be a little further off. And then I would do like three to four international per year. You know, I was definitely going to Costa Rica. I was going to Iceland, and then Italy and then trying to mix up what that fourth one was. Cuba is awesome. I’ve been there a couple times. And yeah, so just trying to feel it out internationally. But I was going to travel a lot this year. It didn’t quite work out. I got in Costa Rica. I got in Cuba. And then that was it. But that’s okay. That’s okay.

Host: Then everything — everything came to a halt as we know.

Guest: I was doing some funky zooms though. I tell you

Host: Yeah, what was that like?

Guest: It’s so funny. It was okay. You know, I was doing beer gas. And we’re doing yoga in our living rooms with beer and just whining and whining. So we had our whining about our situation, just whatever. I was, like, I just, you know, people needed to see each other and talk at least you know. So there’s so many of them. I was just done. I was like, don’t let me zoom ever again.

Host: What would you say is some of the best business advice you’ve received? You know, since you started? Or like in the, I’m sorry, let me back up. What is the thing that you’ve learned most from running your own business in these five years?

Guest: Oh, my. That I just have to, I just have to keep going with what I feel, right? With what’s coming up for me naturally, to follow that gut that right that gut feeling that you get, you know, it’ll just tell you, if you’re starting a piece together an adventure, and you’re like, ooh, that doesn’t feel right, then I better take that away, right away, right? Or if — if somebody is in an adventure, it hasn’t happened very often, thank goodness, but the vibe is not right, something will happen. And that person will — will naturally like take themselves away from the group, which is really nice. I think that’s it, listening to the gut and making sure that at least as much as I can, that — that yoga in nature bit that I really care about getting people outside, get them connected to nature. Even if I don’t do a full yoga practice. We’re out and breathing and connecting that to yoga too, right? So just making sure that my core principles are in there, right in every adventure. And then I think as long as my energy is staying, as you can tell, I have a lot as long as it stay in my guide, then then I’m good. I’m all right. And and I think that’s what people have told me, right. So you’re saying what makes the company work? Well, it’s what you bring to it. Right? So I think that’s what I’ve learned. I just have to stay Holly Holly stays Holly.

Host: I love it. I love it. Now this next question will be a two part. You may have the same answer for both or not something else. Some guys have and some of that other separate answer. So what is the best business advice you’ve received? And what’s the best life advice you’ve ever received?

Guest: Oh my gosh. Best business advice. You know, what’s funny is, is, is I, I feel like I’ve been so much on my own and this and that — that I, — you know, I haven’t attended like any business seminars or marketing seminars really or anything, so I just kind of, I’m just making my way through. I think it has been to be to, because it is me to make sure that I keep learning all the parts that I need to write. So I learned how to build my website, I learn how to get on top of that social media, you know, I learned, right so I, that’s the key, right? Keep learning, right? Don’t just, oh, this is it. This is my company, man. Stay sis. It’s that constant learning. And I. And I think that that’s what I’ve learned from, from my father, from my mother, you know, my father, a professor, a birder, you know, he’s got the literary side, he’s got the wonderful logical side, and just, he’s an activist, and he’s like, just into nature. And that’s where I got that piece. My mom, she’s that physical side and keeping that part of yourself really healthy, right? Staying active, active. And just having those two sides coming together. And I don’t know helping keep yourself strong mentally, physically. That’s huge. And that’s what helps keep my business alive, right? If I’m, if I’m keeping that together, then, you know, I’ll be able to keep my business elevated, right? Rather than –like COVID was a challenge, but you know, you got to rise. You got to keep rising.

Host: You got to keep adapting and evolving with the times. You can’t sit still.

Guest: Absolutely.

Host: Okay. And the best life advice?

Guest: Follow your heart. Be true to yourself. And breathe. Just breathe.

Host: I love it.

Guest: And laughing and that’s one of my favorite things. I did a lot of teaching kids yoga, and I would always tell them to stay silly. Please, do it everybody. I love to laugh and I it’s wicked healthy.

Host: I appreciate you coming on. I love your vibe. Where can my listeners check you out?

Guest: is the website and you can find Maine Yoga Adventures on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter. Reach out to me anybody you have any questions or if you’re like, oh my god, I want to do this adventure. So let me get Holly to set it up. No problem. Reach out,

Host: I appreciate it. Have a good night.

Guest: Thank you so much.

Overview: Holly combined her yoga practice with her love of nature and adventure in 2015 to form Maine Yoga Adventures. The ever-present goal is to get people outside, connected to nature and, ultimately, to themselves. A native of Rhode Island, Holly moved to Maine following ten years of NYC living, theatre, dance, writing and earning an interdisciplinary masters from NYU. She spent ten years at Maine Audubon’s Fields Pond Nature Center and teaches classes at Om Land Yoga when not climbing mountains, paddling seas, hiking trails or soaking her feet in a hot tea bath. She lives in Orono with her husband, the award winning playwright Travis G. Baker, and her boys, Zane and Augi.

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